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NHNZ’s southern exposure secures Abalone Wars for Discovery

Media Release

Wednesday 12th September 2012

NHNZ’s southern exposure secures Abalone Wars for Discovery

Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific has commissioned production house NHNZ to produce a three-part series on the death-defying divers who face Great White Sharks and some of the planet’s most hostile waters to harvest green and black abalone gold.

Abalone Wars follows six dive crews as they set out into the Southern Ocean off South Australia. These waters are home to more sharks per square kilometre than almost anywhere else on earth. But with abalone selling at around $30 apiece that doesn’t stop the divers scouring the ocean floor for much-prized abalone. They work in freezing waters, are often under the water for up to six hours a day and have to be on constant vigil watching out for sharks.

NHNZ Executive Producer John Hyde says the NHNZ production team has a wealth of experience working in the southern ocean’s “Roaring 40s” and are well aware of, and prepared for, the challenges they present.

“We do know what we’re doing in this kind of environment; we’ve worked in these volatile type conditions many times. And we’re also used to working with divers. Although, these abalone divers are something else; our film crew have a great admiration for them and the conditions they have to endure. It’s great to be working amongst such an interesting bunch of characters; they are amazingly tough and the lives they lead are fascinating,” says Mr Hyde.

Mandy Pattinson, Discovery Networks Senior Vice President and General Manager, Australia & New Zealand, has said “We were once again overwhelmed with submissions for our Discovery Ignite local production initiative and are thrilled to have uncovered yet another extraordinary story in Abalone Wars. These fearless men and women have allowed us a never before seen insight into the world of abalone diving, where going to work each day requires putting your life on the line.

Discovery Ignite allows us to invest in exclusive, original and local productions for subscription television audiences and remain true to our brand promise of providing high quality, compelling and engaging programming that viewers can trust and enjoy.”

Abalone Wars will have its world premiere on November 7 at 8:30pm, on Discovery Channel.


NHNZ is a major global producer of factual television creating original content for National Geographic Channels, Discovery Channels, Smithsonian Channel, A&E Television Networks, 3net and NHK (Japan). Highly regarded for its 30-year plus natural history heritage, more recently NHNZ has branched out to other factual genres with hit shows like I Survived for A&E’s Bio Channel. The company’s storytelling prowess has been recognized with more than 250 international awards including Emmy awards and the prestigious Wildscreen Panda. In addition to its base in Dunedin, New Zealand, NHNZ has offices in Beijing and Washington DC, and controlling stakes in Singapore production company Beach House Pictures and South African-based Aquavision.


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